Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Ohio's deer-motor vehicle accidents rose 7% in 2015; caused four fatalities

From does bumping Dodges to bucks taking on Buicks, the number of deer-motor vehicle incidents in Ohio rose seven percent in 2015 over 2014.

Based on data profiled in an annual report compiled by a joint task forth, last year Ohio saw 21,061 deer-motor vehicle incidents – the most since 2011 when the state saw 22,696 such occurrences. This task force consists of  the Ohio Highway Patrol, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Wildlife, and the Ohio Insurance Institute

Last year, he report states, deer-motor vehicle incidents in Ohio resulted in 801 injuries and four fatalities with an estimated total motor vehicle repair bill of $85.1 million at an average of $3,995 per vehicle.

Also, nationally, the industry-sponsored “Insurance Journal” electronic magazine says that each year about 1.23 million deer-motor vehicle incidents occur, causing around $4 billion in vehicle damage. In 2014 - the last year such figures are available - there were 166 deer-motor vehicle-associated fatalities.

In looking at the assembled data presented each autumn by the Ohio entities, the counties with the highest deer-motor vehicle incidents in 2015 included Lorain (596); Hamilton and Stark (527 each); Richland (503); Clermont (491); Williams (433); Trumbull (425); Hancock 9411); Tuscarawas (410); Defiance 409); and Cuyahoga (408).

The only county to finish with deer-motor vehicle accidents in single digits in 2015 was Monroe County with just nine such occurrences.
As for deer-motor-vehicle-associated fatalities in 2015, one each were noted in Belmont County, Harrison County, Ross County, and Tuscarawas County.

The greatest number of injuries associated with deer-motor vehicle incidents in 2015 included Cuyahoga County (47); Lorain County (37); Clermont County (36); Hamilton County (31); Medina County and Tuscarawas County (22 each); and Stark County (20).

Elsewhere in Northeast Ohio, the number of deer-motor vehicle incidents in 2015 were: Media County (401); Sandusky County (278); Geauga County (276); Erie County (273); Huron County (258); and Lake County (210).
Likewise, in further research compiled annually by State Farm Insurance, the odds of an Ohio motorist being involved in a deer-motor vehicle incident are pegged at one in 126. By comparison, the odds next door in Pennsylvania are one in 67, while the odds to the west in Indiana are one in 136.

To the south the odds of a Kentucky motorist being involved in a deer-motor vehicle incident are one in 103.
However, the odds go way up in West Virginia, which has the dubious distinction of the state with the most likely odds of a motorist being involved in a deer-motor vehicle incident: one in 41. This is followed by Montana (one in 58); Pennsylvania; Iowa (one in 68); and South Dakota (one in 70).

Based on the State Farm Insurance numbers the state with lowest odds of a motorist being involved in a deer-motor vehicle incident is Hawaii – one in 18,955. Hawaii has a sizable population of Axis deer, an introduced species.

An important item the Ohio Insurance Institute stresses is that the organization plays no part as a deer-management lobbying organization; dispelling a commonly held hunters’ myth that the insurance industry actively solicits for a reduction in the state’s deer herd, says an Ohio insurance industry official.

“Ohio's insurance industry doesn't take a position on deer culling or other methods of controlling the state's deer population,” said Mary Bonelli, the Institute’s senior vice president of public information.

“We believe the ODNR Division of Wildlife, in tandem with local government, brings the proper balance to address these matters. The Ohio Insurance Institute’s role, along with its state agency partners, is to bring to light safety-related issues such as the elevated risk of deer-vehicle crashes in the coming months along with ways to curtail them.”

And it is just such prevention that Bonelli says her group stresses, too.

“October through December is the peak deer mating season in the Buckeye state, called the ‘rut’ and we urge Ohio motorists to be on the lookout for deer near roadways during this heightened period of deer activity,” Bonelli said.

 Since deer tend to travel in groups, if a motorist sees one, expect others, also says Bonelli who added that peak hours for experiencing a deer-motor vehicle incident are 5 a.m. to 8 a.m., and again from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

“Especially in areas known to have high density of deer population, the Ohio Insurance institue recommends using high beams when there’s no opposing traffic. High beams illuminate the eyes of deer, providing drivers better reaction time,” Bonelli said.

Bonelli says too that such deer avoidance devices as car-mounted high-pitched whistles and special reflectors have “not proven to reduce collisions and may even lull a person into a false sense of security.”

“Data shows that the number of deer-motor vehicle crashes is on the rise in Ohio. We've also seen an increase in overall crashes in the Buckeye state which suggests this,” Bonelli said as well.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

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